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Testing Criteria and Availability Expanded to Prevent Spread of COVID-19

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/April 16, 2020 – 9:00 am

In response to the Ministry of Health’s recent expansion of COVID-19 testing criteria, and as part of continued efforts to prevent the spread of the virus in the community, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is working with health care community partners to increase the availability of assessment and testing for residents in our area. Assessment and testing are now available to more individuals who are eligible under the expanded criteria, as well as to those who are potentially experiencing mild or early signs of COVID-19.

Expanded criteria includes individuals who are experiencing:

  • A fever, a new or worsened cough, shortness of breath.
  • New or worsening symptoms of respiratory illness (sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing).

Evidence has indicated that COVID-19 may cause unusual or mild signs and symptoms, particularly in older adults and youth under age 16. These symptoms may include unexplained tiredness, delirium, falls, decreased ability to perform regular activities, worsening of chronic conditions, digestive upset, chills, headaches, decreased blood pressure, and/or rapid heart beat. Individuals with recent onset of these symptoms are also encouraged to contact HPEPH for a risk assessment.

“We have been working with our partners to increase availability of assessment and testing in our region” says Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “With the recent implementation of local assessment centres, broader testing criteria, and expansion of the Community Paramedicine Program in our region, we are now able to offer assessment and testing to more people.”

Anyone with new or worsened symptoms of the virus is encouraged to contact the HPEPH COVID-19 information line for referral to an assessment centre or testing by community paramedics, if appropriate. The information line can be reached at 613-966-5500, and is open weekdays, 8:30 am – 6:30 pm, and weekends, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm. For more information, please review the FAQ section of the COVID-19 page at, which includes additional information about signs and symptoms of the virus, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19.

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.


Media Contacts:

Veronica Montgomery, Foundational Standards Manager

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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Appointments for individuals 5+ can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

Due to limited supply, HPEPH will initially be prioritizing available bivalent vaccine for residents and workers at identified highest-risk facilities.  Some HPEPH vaccination clinics MAY offer the bivalent vaccine, as availability allows. Vaccine clinics in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties will continue to offer monovalent vaccines (the same mRNA vaccines given as the primary series) for all eligible individuals until a steady supply of the bivalent vaccine is available.

Visit the HPEPH vaccine booking web page for details.


Symptoms or exposure? Visit for the most up to date information about what to do.

For the most up to date information on current provincial restrictions, visit

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.